This is the second post in the Building a Great Marriage series.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil the opportunity.” – NIV, Ephesians 4:26-27
“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” – The Message, Ephesians 4:26-27
When you live with someone you are going to get angry at them for something. We are human beings; occasionally we’re selfish and we forget things.
An offense could be as small as using the jelly spoon in the peanut butter and cross contaminating containers. Larger offenses leave wounds as wide as the grand canyon. I’ve never had to deal with an affair, but I’ve seen marriages recover from one. Larger hurts require the care of prayer, God’s healing, and possibly a counselor. Today, I want to focus on common hurts from the friction of two people living life together.
The friction of living life together will produce hurts and anger.
Anger comes from unmet expectations. When you are angry think about what was the expectation that wasn’t met. Then ask yourself: Did I communicate my expectation clearly? Husbands and wives are not mind readers. Never assume they should know how you want things to happen.
If you never communicated your expectation, then you can diffuse your anger right then. Next time you can try to be more clear with your requests.
If I never told Daniel I wanted the garbage taken out, then I can’t be mad at him for never taking the garbage out.
If you did communicate your expectation, then think about why it didn’t happen. Did they get busy and simply forget? Did a child get sick and throw off the day’s plans? Did a meeting go longer than expected? If the oversight is small, then extend grace. Here’s the rub. If you switched places, then you’d want grace extended to you as well.
Let’s go easy on each other and extend grace for the small things. Let’s be quick to forgive one another.
Daniel and I can’t function well when one of us is angry with each other. We stop whatever we’re doing and talk about the issue right then. Once we stop we can forgive and move on. Sometimes words are said in a hurtful tone, because we’re hungry and angry. Being hangry is a very real emotion. So extend grace if harsh words are said before coffee or you are on your way to dinner. Food can fix almost any temperament.
Being Let Down Big Time
There will be a time when a spouse let’s you down in a big way. One year Daniel simply forgot my birthday. My expectation was he would celebrate me with the kids and take me out. I don’t expect to plan my own birthday gifts and celebrations. I felt awful and was really hurt by his oversight. Later he apologized and tried making it up to me. The whole thing was complicated by his feelings and mine. I told him at the time, “I do forgive you, but it’s going to take time for me to feel it in my heart.” Eventually, I was able to forgive him and now we can joke about the whole situation.
Sometimes I am the one doing the hurting. I am a truth speaker and I can say things that are hurtful. I don’t mean for them to be hurtful, but my words come across that way. It takes time for Daniel to forgive me, but forgiveness always happens.
In marriage there will be anger and hurts. The Bible encourages not reciprocate in our anger, but to forgive before the sun goes down.
What would it look like to harbor bitterness in our hearts? What if I was still angry at Daniel for forgetting my birthday? I’m sure he’d hate it if I made stabs like, “Oh sure, you remember your son’s birthday, but you forget mine!” He’d do his best to avoid me if I threw my hurts in his face every chance I got. Marriage is not avoiding each other to save ourselves from being hurt. We are humans. We will get hurt and angry, but there is security knowing forgiveness is on the other side.
Life’s too short to be angry all time. Let’s forgive quickly and move on. Our marriages will work a lot better when there is a security of forgiveness.